ManyNew Orleanspersonal injury lawsuits involve a defendant who was violating a legal statute, such as a driver who runs a red light or fails to yield the right of way. While a clear violation of such laws may establish the defendant’s guilt in criminal court, they do not necessarily establish his or her liability for civil damages.
In all personal injuries cases, it must be proven that the defendant owed the injured party a duty of care. When an injured person relies upon a defendant breaking a law to establish the defendant’s responsibility toward the injured person,Louisianacourts tend to analyze the law broken by the defendant using a two prong approach.
First, the court will determine whether the law violated by the defendant was designed to protect a category of people that would include the injured party. If the court finds that the violated law was not designed to protect people like the person injured – for example, if an adult was injured but the law was only designed to protect children – then violation of that law does not establish the defendant’s liability in the personal injury lawsuit.
If the court finds that the statute was designed to protect people like the plaintiff, then it will proceed to analyze whether the statute was designed to protect against the specific risk that led to the injury. If the harm to the injured person was not the sort of harm the law was designed to prevent, then violation of the statute does not support liability. If, however, the court answers both questions affirmatively, then proof that the statute was violated may establish the defendant’s liability.
If you have been injured by someone breaking the law, we would be happy to help you. Please call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.